Posted in Uncategorized, travel, traveller, travelogue, travel diaries, jaipur, the lalit, amber fort, amber, hawa mahal, jaigarh fort, city palace, fort, palace

Long Weekend Getaway – Jaipur Diaries

I am not the sort of traveller to keep a bucket list but Jaipur had been on my mind for a very long time. The pink city, with its rich history and grandeur, has never failed to entice anyone and who am I to not get seduced by those perfect picturesque forts and colourful palaces?

I am glad that I am currently residing in the national capital which is pretty near to Jaipur.  The X-mas weekend was the only opportunity for me to finally fulfil my dream of visiting this mesmerising city and learn about the Rajput culture. A 45 minute flight saved my time.

Day 1

Arrival time at Jaipur airport: 10:30am.

Place of stay: The Lalit, Jaipur. It is within 2km distance of the airport and a 10 minute Ola ride through wide and smooth roads took me there.

The Lalit is a four star premium hotel but the way the staff at the reception treated my check-in was third grade. I had booked a suite for three women and had talked to them previously that I want to do the check-in by 11am. The reception personnel said that I cannot check-in before 11:30am and I have to pay 9510 bucks for the special and compulsory Gala Dinner. I was short of money on that day and had to save for the trip as well, so it was not possible for me to pay the whole amount in one go. The reception staff refused the check me in without that payment and they did this with other travellers also, some of whom were students.

The room assigned to me was a normal deluxe room with two queen size beds with no space for a third bed. When I asked the service guy that where will he keep the third bed, he pointed to the only walking space in the room. A suite is supposed to have a king size bed, an extra table and sofas with enough space for a single bed, but here, I could not see any such amenities. When I called up the reception, they were clueless. After returning to the reception and having a conversation with the manager, I paid half the amount for the gala dinner on 24th and was assigned the suite that I had booked.

In ideal conditions, our suite should have had three sets of cutlery, toiletries and other provisions. But I think the staff here is too dumb to understand that and we were always provided just one set, even when we ordered for in room dining.

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Lunch in the suite: I had ordered Dal Tadka, Dal Baluchi and normal rotis for our lunch. We were provided complimentary mini desserts which were in the prettiest shapes – a lipstick, mascara, a pair of lips etc. Both the Dals were amazing in taste and full of flavours with the rotis reminding of the home made variety we have. The desserts were just sugar painted in different colours and we chose to leave them instead of harming our bellies.

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Hawa Mahal at 4pm:

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It was crowded as hell because of the long weekend but we were able to make through and relish the colourful interiors. The courtyard was soothing and the rooftop is a good place to observe the setting sun. There is World View Café just on the opposite side on the road from where you can climb upstairs and get your picture clicked with Hawa Mahal in the background.

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Virajosa/Night Tour bus at 6pm: We had expected a lot from the night tour bus but this proved to be a damper on our spirits. They started early and asked us to reach Amar Jawan Jyoti (the second stop) instead of the assembly point which was the World Trade Park. We pointlessly waited for 30 minutes – in that time, we would have reached the assembly point and boarded the bus.

We had chosen roof top seats and they assigned us a six seater with a couple. Not good.

We were greeted with vegetarian Manchurian which was average in taste. A cold sandwich with juice and biscuits followed. The rooftop should have been in glass as shown in the pictures but it was covered in a green mesh which marred the experience of beholding the Jaipur skyline in the night.

Usually, in night tours, they have stops at specific places where a guide describes the history of the place but no such thing happened at the various halts mentioned except Jal Mahal. No description was given and we were bundled into jeeps which took us to Nahargarh Fort.

The jeep ride was eventful and scary in the night. The fort is situated on the hills and the winding, dark and deserted roads, cool air and a bumpy ride ensure the adventure which was missing in the bus. The jeep riders also told us about the history of forts here which was a welcome change.

Nahargarh Fort used to be a retreat for the queens of Sawai Madho Singh and a hunting residence for the kings. The city of Jaipur, when alit in the night, presents a beautiful picture from the railings of the fort.

There is a new Sheesh Mahal fashioned at the Nahargarh Fort and the entry fee is 200 bucks. Multi hued mirrors in medieval cuts and patterns greet you as you take a carefully treaded stroll wearing double layered carry bags as footwear. I was reminded of the “Sheesh Mahal special” song from Mughal-e-Azam.

We were offered a vegetarian Rajasthani thali on our way back in the bus and the taste was average.

Back at Lalit, we ordered Masala peanuts and grilled fish with vegetables and potato mash. The peanuts tasted stale and the fish was the only good aspect of the second dish. The vegetables were not sautéed but were boiled and instead of the potato mash, chopped potatoes were there. No class from a 4 star.

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Day2: Because of my stomach infection, we got late and could only venture out for Amber Fort at 8:30 am. Because of the long weekend rush, we reached by 9:45 am and hired an ASI approved local guide. He took us through a short cut passage towards the fort where we encountered the alluring Jagat Shiromani temple which is dedicated to Meera Bai and Lord Krishna and has a huge flight of stairs. The architecture is mesmerising but our dear guide was in a hurry to get more customers so he rushed us through.

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Jalebi chowk – This is the main courtyard which connects the Sun Gate with the rest of the palace. From here, the entrances to the Kali temple, Diwan –i-am and the Shahi Hamam proceed.

Diwan-i-am – A pillared hall on a raised platform with elephants adorning the pillars. You can stand near the railings and revel in the brilliant sunshine and comforting winds.

Diwan-i-khas – Diwan-i-khas of any fort is worth two or three visits. Be it the Agra fort, the Delhi Red fort or even the Mysore Palace, the “hall of the special” is an exquisite world in itself. Amber fort was no different. Sheesh Mahal is one of the main attractions here. Fashioned from marble and having inlaid colourful mirror work, this hall will definitely take your breathe away.

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Jaigarh Fort:

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From Amber, it takes half an hour to reach the Jaigarh Fort which is situated uphill. This fort holds the biggest cannon of the world which was only fired once and its target was 40km away.

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This used to be the stronghold of the royal battalion & defence and was constructed from security point of view. I found this one better than Amber, maybe because of lesser crowd and maybe because of its “fort like” qualities. Tough and imposing walls surround you as you enter this. It is not as ornate as Amber and no embellishments and decorations are there to allure you. But as you move along this one, you get to see Jaipur from the view point of the warriors who used to man the ramparts of Amber. Jal Mahal, Amber, Nahargarh, you name it, and you can view it.

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Because it is situated at a greater height than Amber, the flowing wind soothes your mind and cures you of tiredness as you walk on the hardened stone floor. Langurs, pigeons and parrots carefully move away as you tread towards the light house. What a travel state!

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The Gala dinner at The Lalit on 24th December was disappointing to say the least. The hotel made it compulsory for every traveller but did not make the necessary arrangements for it. We were asked to wait for 10-15 minutes and when we argued against it, the hotel staff mentioned that we are coming at a time of rush. The timings are from 7-10pm and people will come at their own convenience to which the hotel staff does not agree. After many arguments, we were assigned a table.

The cheapness of the hotel does not end here. They were serving the lowest grade of Sula red wine and the food was pathetic. The cold cuts and the cheese tasted stale. I was concerned about my stomach so did not eat much.

Day3: City Palace

Our plan was to explore the city palace for an hour and then rush back to the airport for our flight. But thanks to an ignorant cab driver who instead of listening to us and following our directions to the destination followed his own gut feeling and got us to Taj Mahal Palace hotel (imagine the frustration), we only got 15 minutes for the residential palace.

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I think I am getting exhausted of writing on and on that how clean the palaces and forts of Jaipur are. The frescoes and cravings are maintained till date and the colours and the beauty intact. There is a queue for getting snapped at the famed peacock door and you do require patience for that.

I wish to visit Jaipur again because there are so many places that I was unable to visit and so many dishes to hog on.

Jaipur, let us meet again!

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Posted in cooking, indian food, kitchen, Uncategorized

Tomato chutney

Given below are the steps to prepare a simple tomato chutney/salsa.

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Ingredients(serves 1-2)
3 Tomatoes
2-3 Green chillis
1/2 Onion
Coriander leaves
1 clove of Garlic
Salt
Procedure-
1.Boil the tomatoes or you can grill it over stove as well.
2.Boil them till the time they become squishy(see the image below).
3.Take out the tomatoes and peel off the skin.
4.Mash the tomatoes in the bowl and add chopped green chillis, chopped onions, chopped garlic and salt as required.
5. Add fresh coriander leaves and it is ready to be served.

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Posted in afghani chicken, chicken, chicken kebab, chicken tikka, gurgaon, india, indian, indian cuisine, kebab, mughlai, mughlai cuisine, mutton, north indian, seekh kebab, Uncategorized

Biryani Bhaijaan, Sushant Lok, Gurgaon

Yet another restaurant that promises to tantalize your palate, Biryani Bhaijaan is a nwly opened restaurant in Sushant Lok, Gurgaon. I commend the owner of this outlet because very few have the courage to experiment in Mughlai cuisine and succeed in that.

Chicken Malai Tikka: When mellow chicken pieces are drenched in thick, yoghurt based gravy, magic happens! The use of their secret masala adds to the depth of this mesmerizing appetizer. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Mutton Seekh kebab: As if the usual seekh kebabs weren’t appetizing enough that these guys drenched them in tangy and creamy gravy and presented it to you. Perfection is a small word for this one. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Murg Mussalam with Khameeri roti and Naan: I thank Biryani Bhaijaan for making my first experience with Murg Mussalam a memorable one. The consistency of the curry is perfect with the addition of peanuts and ginger jullienes. Chicken pieces are tender and egg perfectly boiled, but what baffles you the most is the addition of chicken seekh kebabs. A Mughlai experimentation at its best! Kalonji seeds are embedded in the naan imparting an unusual dimension to this whole ensemble. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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 Biryani Bhaijaan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in chicken, chocolate, dark chocolate, dessert, fettucine, grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, potato wedge, prawn, salmon, steak, Uncategorized

New Menu launch at TGI Fridays, DLF Promenade, Vasant Kunj

I began my food exploring with TGIF and I used to be a regular one there a while back. Their American and Tex-Mex menu with huge portion sizes always attracted the glutton in me.

So when TGIF introduces their new menu, it is onerous for gluttons like me to keep calm as the enticing dishes call our palate. Here are a few of them that I recently tasted:

Grilled Chimichurri chicken skewers: Light crust, juicy but slightly dry – the chicken pieces were probably char grilled at a higher temperature which left them pretty chewy. The skewers were served with potato wedges which were light and a hot chilli garlic Sriracha sauce. RECOMMENDED.

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Parmesan crusted chicken with fettucine and salad: A classy masterpiece. If two juicy chicken breasts marinated in a creamy Caesar dressing and finished with a crumbly parmesan crust aren’t enough to leave you spellbound then the sweet onion, cherry tomato and moazarella salad and the creamy fettucine with chopped spinach and spring onions will cast an enchantment over your taste buds. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Jack Daniel’s Tobasco steak and shrimp: The steak is “well done” in the Jack Daniel’s sauce and it is easier to cut and chew. The shrimps have a crispy outer covering and belong to the freshest catch that the restaurant could lay its hands upon. Their special Jack Daniel’s sauce, fashioned from caramelised onions and honey compliments the steak and the prawns well.  Served with a smooth potato mash and juicy buttered broccoli – this one is a winner. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Jack Daniel’s Norwegian Salmon: The salmon is char grilled and has a perfect glaze of the Jack Daniel’s sauce but is over grilled and hence slightly chewy. RECOMMENDED.

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Chocolate mud pie: A frozen dessert with warm chocolate and almond mouse covering over it. Chocolate crumble crust, coffee ice cream and almond mouse make up this three layered extraordinary dessert. The ice cream and mouse are frozen in the crumble crust and the ensemble tastes divine. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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*************Older review*****************

Where to start guys!
I have been quite regular at this one. Their cool ambience, kickass deals (star and stripes) and yummy food attracts me again and again.
TGIF’s Cajun Chicken Wings are to die for. Earlier, they used to be tangy and spicy but now you have to specify whether you want the tanginess or spiciness to be there. Nonetheless, this dish dish is juicy to the core – the herbs penetrate to the inside of the chicken and the blue cheese dip (papprika and red chilli flakes) they serve will definitely erupt your mouth – too hot and spicy!
Recently when we there, we also tried Miami Cubano Chicken Stack – topped with mozzarella and bacon and served with rice and mushroom. Phew! Fulfilling main course! The steak was soft, tender and mildly spiced with crispy bacon strips between two steaks. Rice was good with chewy mushrooms adding to the subtle flavours. Overall a fully worth every penny meal!
The service is pretty good here with pro-active and well informed servers. The one who served us was Krishna. He did his job very well.
This place is always bustling with an amazing crowd.

TGI Fridays Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in cheese, cheese cake, chicken, chicken sausage, cottage cheese, creme brulee, dessert, fish, gnochhi, grilled fish, noodles, Salad, Uncategorized, yakisoba noodles

Raise the Bar Rooftop, Clarens Hotel, Sector 29, Gurgaon

Winters have officially arrived in Delhi NCR and it is time to come out of your closet and enjoy the glorious winter sun. The poisonous haze has gone for good now and you can embrace the chilly weather which is there to stay for a month or so.

And what better to do on a weekend than have a brunch on a roof top from where the Gurgaon skyline is visible? Located at the Clarens Hotel, Sector 29, Gurgaon, Raise the Bar Rooftop offers one of a kind experience. There is a huge bar counter running along half of the length and a special dessert and patisserie counter awaits you when you enter this place. The polished wooden interiors with a good seating arrangement promise a relaxed ambience and a slew of well trained servers is there to make your stay memorable.

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Patisserie special: All cheese – oregano filled pungent and layered Adam cheese, herb cheese filled with chilli flakes and gouda are prepared from cow milk and are imported. The crackers are light and crunchy, the pickled olives not so sour, raw papaya and cucumber subtle and the focaccia airy.  RECOMMENDED.

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Gnochhi salad: The gnocchi is oh so smooth and melt in the mouth and served on a pan fried spinach base with hints of garlic and ginger. The spinach is not so bitter and is easy to gobble on. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Barley salad with chicken and green beans: The tangy chicken sausage leaves you in a deep food coma, while the crunchy grilled green beans, plump and juicy cherry tomatoes add more depth to this salad. The best part – the sauce has penetrated to every element. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Fried chicken popsickles: Hats off to the chef who thought of this. Who wants ice popsickles if you can have fried chicken one? And they go well in the winters too. The finest chicken mince fried in bread crumbs to a lovely brown and golden hue and served with garlic mayo can leave you in splits. The crispy exterior and the soft mince like interior will definitely win your heart. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Herb crusted sole fillet: The very thin layer of herb curst with mellow insides – perfection of a well seared sole fillet. The potato wedges are served as sides and slightly soft. RECOMMENDED.

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Yakisoba noodles with vegetables: Disappointment. The noodles did not taste like Japanese noodles in Yakisoba sauce but resembled a desi pan fried version of our street food variant in flavours.

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Crème Brulee: Not good at all. The well defined crust is not there and the flavour of the cheesecake resembled the taste of raw eggs.

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Raise The Bar Rooftop-Clarens Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in adrenaline rush, escape game, escape games, things to do in delhi, Uncategorized

The Hidden Hour, New Delhi

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The Hidden Hour is now in Delhi and we couldn’t be more happier! They have introduced three more games- “The Haunted Hostel” , “Space Wars-The Alien Attack” and “Lost in an Island- The Amazing Escape”. After having a good time at their Gurugram center, I was bubbling with excitement to try out this one!

So  I tried “Space Wars- The Alien Attack” and it was amazing. They have a perfect storyline to make this escape game believable. In this one your spaceship has been attacked by aliens and you have to solve all the clues given and plan your escape as well in just 60 minutes. Nothing is virtual in here, all the objects are real. They locked all of us in a room and there were so many clues, hidden puzzles in that room which you had to piece together. The game certainly requires out-of-the-box thinking and make the rusted clogs of your brain work. The game is thrilling, exhilarating and mind boggling at the same time. The timer compels you to solve things fast. This is precisely what action movies or those finding-hidden-objects-in-a-room games are made up of. Every team mate plays an important role and this game would be good for corporate team building exercises. The 60 minutes fly by and you are left wanting for more.

If you are an adrenaline junkie, this is a perfect place for you. The Aliens are waiting to attack your ship, are you brave enough to thwart their plans?

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Posted in cake, chocolate cake, cookie, dark chocolate, dark chocolate brownie, delhi, dessert, marble cake, pastry, pineapple, Uncategorized, walnut

Yummy Tummy Corner, Rodeo Drive, Sohna Road, Gurgaon

Gurgaon dwellers, you have finally have an answer to those sudden cravings for fresh sugary delights. So what if you don’t get time to bake at home, Yummy Tummy Corner is there to provide baked goodies right at your doorstep.

Pineapple upside down: Soft and fresh with a thin glaze on top, moderate sweetness and with real flavour of fresh pineapple intact, this is a RECOMMENDED dessert.

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Walnut brownie: Nutty, mellow and spongy and served with gooey liquid chocolate, this one is pure sin! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Mud pastry: Thick, mellow, rich with dark chocolate and not too sweet, this pastry is there to satiate those yearnings for dark chocolate. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Marble cake: A monochromatic a.k.a marble like cake awaits as you as you open this beauty. The mixture of chocolate and vanilla are mixed in a blended fashion. The cake is soft, spongy and has a brownie like texture with optimum sweetness. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Nankhatai cookies: With hints of green cardamom and a fine powdery texture as you take a bite, these cookies are well baked to perfection. RECOMMENDED.

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Yummy Tummy Corner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato